Newspaper Sues School District After Superintendent Resigns

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina newspaper is suing a school district over officials' lack of transparency in their handling of the resignation of a popular superintendent last month.

The State newspaper in Columbia reports that it filed the lawsuit in state court last week against the Lexington-Richland 5 school district.

The suit alleges that the school board approved a settlement agreement with former superintendent Christina Melton behind closed doors, never holding a public discussion or a vote as required by South Carolina's open meeting laws.

Melton resigned unexpectedly last month following a closed-door executive session at a board meeting. A settlement agreement obtained by the newspaper showed the board agreed to pay Melton $226,368 on top of her regular salary and benefits in exchange for her departure. That agreement was never presented in public.

Melton's resignation came shortly after she was named South Carolina’s Superintendent of the Year, a title she had to forfeit with the job.

The move prompted one board member to quit as well.

School board chair Jan Hammond defended the closed-door meeting when reached by the paper for comment, saying it was considered standard practice for the board.